Saturday, March 24, 2007

My Mother’s Broken Jade Bracelets – Lam Chun Chew


One day, when I came home from school, I saw my mum playing cards with her lady friends. The year was in the early 60’s. Suddenly, a skinny old lady barged in and called my mum; "Sam Soh*, I need ten dollars urgently. You can have my two jade bracelets." She took them off and handed them to my mother.

My mother gave her the money and she quickly made an exit. Later I heard my mum speaking to her friend through the phone, and asking her for advice regarding the two old oil-coated jade bracelets. Her fiend advised my mum to let a goldsmith chemical-wash the bracelets, and true enough the items became as good as new. My mother proudly put on her new jade bracelets on her left wrist and showed off to her kampong friends.
One Sunday morning, without any rhyme or reason, she took a short cut through the 'tua tao' (大头) grocery shop opposite our house (please see earlier post on Our Kampong), trying to exit from the shop’s rear entrance. Before she could exit, a heavy unhinged wooden door, placed near the rear shop entrance, came crashing down onto her. Luckily, it narrowly missed her, but grazed her left wrist, smashing one bracelet to pieces. She became ashen-faced, picked up the broken jade pieces quickly, and headed for home. After relating the incident, she went to a goldsmith to solder back the broken jade bracelet, using gold as the solder, saying that she would leave the good-luck charms for her grandchildren. Chinese believe that jade can expel evils. Should we believe this long-held belief?

* Because my father was number 3 in his family, the kampong folks called him Sam Kor and my mum, Sam Sor (三哥,三嫂)

18 comments:

Victor said...

My mum even used a jade bracelet to boil water for us to drink when we were kids. I couldn't jump to any conclusion as to why she did that or how effective it was.

zen said...

The older generation had many beliefs (or superstitions) which they did not hesitate to put into practice. Also many people of various religious denominations look on things from their own religious point of view. There was this young lady, a company secretary, whom I met years ago. She was strange and did not believe in anything and attributed unusual happenings to mere co-incidents happened in one's life. Well everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs, including non-beliefs.

LaoKokok said...

Yes, probably in this case the jade bracelet took the blow from your grandma. It may sounds superstitious - ok I know....

zen said...

lkk - Some correction, the wearer was my mum not grandma. Whether it is superstition or otherwise, jade lovers could continue wearing these stones which are products of nature's untiring work. Like diamond it takes skillful craftmen to make them a thing of beauty, and really standing out, but beware of fakes. I am not an expert in jade, but I like looking at it.

zen said...

When talking about jade, it would lead me to think of emperors of ancient China whose seals were normally made from jade. This subject of seal again stimulates my memory. Here is the story: There was this British commanding naval officer who helped my boss alot while I was attached to Sembawang. This officer was really obliging, even letting our port VIPs boarded his aircraft carrier and told the crew to cater to the needs of these VIPs while he personally led the VIPs around. The day he told my boss that he was leaving for UK, my boss was so sad of missing his good friend. My boss discussed with me what present should he give to this pal of his. While brainstorming for ideas, my boss came up with the present of a seal (not jade), engraving with the officer's name in Chinese. The officer on seeing his present was so surprised and happy that he thanked my boss profusely and promised to use it when occasion arose. To the Chinese a seal is a symbol of power.

Chris said...

Zen, as usuall, always have very interesting stories to tell. Certain things, we say we don't want to believe also cannot. My wife juz bought a jade pendant, too. She said it's for self-protection....

zen said...

Chris - Luckily I have some stories stored in my mind ready to serve them as and when the occasion arises, otherwise young people like you would take centre stage, brushing oldies aside. Anyway, your wife should thank me for the story which made you parted with your precious dollars or was it hers.

zen said...

Jade has a powerful influence over the Chinese in particular. My mother middle name was yook (jade). You would find many Chinese ladies whose names have word like Gek this or that. Whole jade industries bloom in countries like Myammar, Thailand and China providing many gainful employment to the people there.

Chris said...

Hehehe.... my wife's middle name is Geok (玉). She dun read blogs one. She bought the Jade herself after reading some book on Chinese horoscope lor .... But she's not the fanatic sort.

What makes u think people like us would brush aside oldies? U dun see me brush off Victor or Chun See, do you? Hahaha..

zen said...

Chris - Victor and Chun See are rather young, even using you as a marker. By confucian standard, only those approaching seventy, are considered old. Actually they can be ranked as your elder brothers.

Chris said...

Zen, then you're considered young too! Only 64 wat... Actually, old or young is really relative. Compared to a 9 year old, a 25 year old is considered "old". At 64, you're way too young compared to a 92. Agreed? haha..

Victor said...

Chris - Can you stop being so argumentative? Besides, age is off-topic for this post. Jisuz.

zen said...

Chris - Talking about age, it reminds me of a Japanese author who said that whether person is young or old, is not so important. He gives an example - what is the use if a young man if he is a physical wreak and mentally weak. On the other an older person could be full of vitality, stamina, pro-active and leads a full life.

Chris said...

Zen,but the fact remains that the man who is physical and mentally weak is younger. Sorry, now I'm really being argumentative. Haha..

Actually, young or old does not matter. One must not stop living. That's the main issue. Some people think they are living, but they are not. Eat, sleep, wake up and go to work. That's all they do.

Sher-Li said...

I have one part of that jade bangle now - my mom always said that about jade...how protective it is. and that story is stuck in my head.

zen said...

I read the ST yesterday, and realise how innovative the Chinese 2008 Olympic committee is. They come up with the idea of using a circular jade piece(uniform in size) encased into all medals (to be awarded to winners), be it gold, silver or bronze. It is like what the Chinese says: adding decorative flowers onto a beautiful piece of silk.

Idaline Cirillo said...

There’s nothing wrong to believe in traditional superstitions such as jade can indeed ward off evil. Nonetheless, having a jade accessory is really good. Aside from having powers to protect an individual from evil spirits as tradition has dictated, it really looks good and unique. Its color gives has a classy feeling to it that makes it stand out from other stones. That’s my opinion on this matter. Anyway, thanks for sharing this story!

Idaline Cirillo

bracelets singapore said...

I like this idea to design new jewellery by using broken jade bracelets.